Board of Trustees approves budget, addresses enrollment

Troy Pierson Reporter

Kent State held its Board of Trustees business meeting this afternoon to discuss and vote on agenda items that included the fiscal year 2021 budget, the establishment of new majors and the approval of vendors for different campus services. 

The majority of the board met via Zoom to discuss the meeting’s agenda, and university President Todd Diacon, trustee Virginia Addicott, trustee Ralph Della Ratta, student trustee Dylan Mace and trustee Shawn Riley convened in person in the library for the telecall. 

Diacon said there are two major public health crises the university is facing at this time: combating systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. Diacon acknowledged the recent racist paintings on the front campus rock, and said the university will continue to work to build a welcoming community by working with student organizations such as Black United Students (BUS) and Undergraduate Student Government (USG). 

Diacon said six-year graduation rates have steadily increased throughout the last decade, from 49.9% in 2010 to 65.5% in 2020. Four-year graduation rates have also increased from 25% to 50% from 2010-20.

15th day enrollment numbers were revealed at the meeting today. Kent campus enrollment is down 3.2% with 25,948 students; regional campus enrollment is down 2.7% with 10,316 students; system-wide enrollment is down 3.1% with 36,264 students; and Kent campus retention is up 0.4% with 81.6% retention.

The board approved of the following measures this afternoon: 

  • The establishment of a cybersecurity major within the Associate of the Applied Business Degree within the College of Applied and Technical Studies. 

  • The establishment of an artificial intelligence major within the Master of Science degree within the College of Arts and Science. 

  • An update of Title IX to comply with new federal requirements as of August 2020, which focuses on regulation for student behavior and student conduct. 

  • An operating budget for fiscal year 2020-21 of revenues totaling $595 million and expenses totaling $595 million. These numbers reflect a $65 million reduction for year 2020. 

  • Two vendors for natural gas services. Direct Energy Business Marketing LLC will provide services for the regional campuses, certain accounts NEOnet and the college of Podiatric Medicine. IGS Services will provide natural gas for the Kent campus and certain accounts for NEOnet. These purchasing agreements extend for a five-year period with five additional one-year periods for continued use at the university’s discretion. The total cost will be funded by the university’s facilities management energy operations.

  • A vendor for a New Learning Management System and Related Implementation Services. The university selected Infrastructure-Canvas for a three-year period with a university option to renew for two years. The three year period will cost $1,560,332 and each optional year to renew the contract will cost $605,218 per year, with an overall total of  $2,770,768 for the seven year contract.

  • A vendor for a network data center firewall. The university selected CDW-GOV Palo Alto for a cost of $1.62 million over a five year period. This vendor will be funded by the CARES Act. 

  • A vendor that will provide refreshed and modernized equipment and services that will assist with remote coursework and telework. CDW-GOV LLC. This vendor will also be funded by the CARES Act.

The next board meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 9. 

Contact Troy Pierson at [email protected].